Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival Sydney 2010

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Sydney is host to the Indigenous Film Festival since its inception in 1999. The festival premiers a fine selection of Aboriginal films in drama, documentary, comedy and shorts, often followed by a short question and answers (Q&A) session. Many of the film reviews you find on this site come from my visits to the Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival which is very popular.

It's absolutely recognisable that Australians are hungry to learn more about their own people… They want access to these stories—because they're ultimately stories for all Australians.

— Warwick Thornton, Aboriginal director

11th Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival program

Venue: Sydney Opera House, Playhouse. The festival then tours nationally.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Documentary Session 1 | 7pm-8:30pm

Nin's Brother

Mary Munro | Australia 2010 | 26 min (World premiere) | Q&A

Nin's Brother is the story of a family's love as they journey from NSW to South Australia to unravel the fate of their brother and uncle and to bring him home to a proper resting place with the graves of his family.

Film: Nin's Brother

Big Fella

Michael Longbottom | Australia 2010 | 26 min | Q&A

Meet Aboriginal Australia's biggest loser, struggling with the crippling affects of diabetes and obesity, a widespread experience in Indigenous communities. This is one man's love for life, his battle to stay alive, and his fight against the demons of obesity and diabetes.

Film: Big Fella

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Documentary Session 2 | 11am-12:10pm

Boxing For Palm Island

Adrian Wills | Australia 2010 | 52 min (repeat screening) | Q&A

There is a new generation of warriors on Palm Island, a place with a dark history and a less than stellar reputation. They are fighting back and taking the future into their own hands with the help and support of Uncle Ray - the man who has brought boxing back to Palm Island.

Film: Boxing For Palm Island

Short Films Session | 1pm-2:30pm


USA 2009 | 15 min

When Mary Jane finds geography book that shows her an entirely new world, she must decide whether to maintain her traditional Navajo reservation lifestyle with her grandmother or go out into a larger world.

Nundhirribala's Dream

Ella Geia | Australia 2009 | 6 mins

Nundhirribala is not a dreamer; the mental images he has during sleep are interpreted in song and dance, to add to an already rich culture. This is a story of a dream that became reality and changed the course of one man's personal and cultural life.

Film: Nundhirribala's Dream


Katie Wolfe | New Zealand 2009 | 17 mins

Redemption is the dark and tender story of two Maori kids trying to find their way through personal hells. However, in the coming of age story, survival may not bring a happy ending.

The Cave

Helen Haig-Brown | Canada 2009 | 11 mins

Set in 1961 in the Chilcotin Territory of Western Canada, The Cave recounts the story of a bear hunter who discovers a secret portal to the spirit world. This beautifully crafted film provides a powerful cinematic rendering of an authentic Tsilhqot'in oral story.

Barngngrnn Marrangu Story

Queenie Brennan | Australia 2009 | 6 mins

A woman remembers her childhood experience of a midnight escape with her parents from a Northern Territory reserve and their trek back home through Jawyon country.

Film: Barngngrnn Marrangu Story

Daniel's 21st

Adrian Wills | Australia 2009 | 15 mins (repeat screening)

It's Daniel's 21st Birthday and something has gone horribly wrong. As Daniel struggles into darkness, he returns home to his Mother who is frightened that he is in some sort of trouble that she can't bail him out of. Then there is a knock at the front door…

Film: Daniel's 21st

Documentary Session 3 | 3:15pm-4.45pm

Reel Injun

Neil Diamond, Catherine Bainbridge, Jeremiah Hayes | Canada 2009 | 85 mins

Reel Injun takes an entertaining and insightful look at the Hollywood Indian. Travelling through the heartland of America, Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond looks at how the myth of "the Injun" has influenced the world's understanding - and misunderstanding - of Natives.

With candid interviews with directors, writers, actors and activists, including Clint Eastwood, Jim Jarmusch, and others, plus clips from hundreds of classic and recent films, Reel Injun traces the evolution of cinema's depiction of Native people from the silent film era to today.

Documentary Session 4 | 5:30pm-6.30pm

Lani's Story

Genevieve Grieves | Australia 2009 | 51 mins | Q&A

Lani's Story follows a woman's experience of two relationships - one she has to escape to survive, the other she cannot survive without. It is a moving and intimate portrait of a young Aboriginal woman's journey from victim to victor, from a broken and violent relationship to discovering the redemptive power of love. Lani's Story also explores the impact of intergenerational violence within a family and community and how the courage of one person can transform the lives of others.

Film: Lani's Story

Aboriginal Karaoke 'Sing-A-Long' | 7:30pm-9pm

Bran Nue Dae

Rachel Perkins | Australia 2009 | 85 mins | Q&A

It's the summer of 1969 and young Willie is filled with idyllic life of Broome. But when the holidays are over, he must return to Perth for further schooling. After being punished by the principle Father Benedictus (Geoffrey Rush) for an act of youthful rebellion, Willie runs away. Down on his luck he meets 'Uncle' Tadpole, (Ernie Dingo) and together they con a couple of hippies, into taking them on the 2,500 km journey back to Broome, all the while pursued by Father Benedictus.

Host 'Uncle Tadpole' (Ernie Dingo) for a giant Aboriginal-karaoke-sing-along. Complete with song lyrics to guide you through each song, Bran Nue Dae sing-a-long is a very special screening of this great Australian musical - requiring maximum audience participation for maximum fun!

Film: Bran Nue Dae

More Aboriginal films

Explore hundreds of Aboriginal movie reviews or check out one of the past film festivals:

Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival - A panel of directors and actors in discussion with the audience.
Message Sticks Film Festival. The audience gets the chance to have questions and answers with the film makers at the end of each film.

Cite this page

Korff, J 2018, Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival Sydney 2010, <>, retrieved 20 July 2024

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